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Tick Bite Symptoms and Signs
Tick bites are generally painless. Many people may not even notice the bite and may never find the tick if it falls off. Small ticks, like the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease, are so tiny they may be nearly undetectable. Some ticks are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. However, there are some symptoms that may occur that can be directly related to the tick itself; they are due to the tick bite. Occasionally, a neurotoxin (a substance that is toxic to nerves) secreted at the time of attachment to make the bite unnoticeable to humans and other hosts can cause muscle weakness or paralysis. It rarely causes paralysis that inhibits breathing. The simple task of removing the tick stops any further neurotoxin production, and the person usually recovers quickly and completely. The actual bite may cause symptoms only after the tick drops off. However, some people may notice local redness, itching, burning, and rarely, localized intense pain (soft ticks) before or after the tick drops off. The majority of tick bites result in few, if any, immediate symptoms.
The results of the illnesses transmitted by ticks often begin days to weeks after the tick is gone. That's why doctors or affected individuals may not suspect a tick-related illness because many people ignore or forget about barely noticeable "bites." The most important clue about any tick-related illness is to tell the physician about a tick bite. Also, the individual needs to tell their physician about outdoor activity (camping, hiking, etc.) in tick-infested areas even if the person does not remember a tick bite.
After a tick bite, individuals may develop any of these symptoms that may be due to the organism that the tick transmits during its bite:
These symptoms may appear with many different types of tick bites; the symptoms that develop due to the different organisms are included in this list, but readers are advised to use the links provided in this article for more information about specific conditions. This will allow the reader to obtain a more definitive set of symptoms for each different pathogen passed into the host by ticks. For example, Figure 4 shows the "bull's eye" rash seen in patients who develop Lyme disease.
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